I wanted to make a quick introduction and tell this community about a project that I am doing with National Geographic. I am a looooong time lurker on these forums and recently formally joined. I am looking forward to becoming a part of the community here.
So I am an engineer and part of the National Geographic Explorers program, based on some work I have been doing for a number of years now on identifying technological solutions for ocean protection, namely in stopping overfishing, illegal fishing, and poaching of our seas. You can see my profile here. I work on bringing modern technology and open source approaches to dealing with ocean protection. This work started in graduate school at Stanford University and I have gone on to work with a number of nonprofits and organizations since then. Most the stuff I focus on involved the development of hardware (low cost sensors, etc) and data management solutions (smartphone apps, online databases, etc.), as well as the identification of innovative approaches and technologies that work within the constraints of a certain community.
I am familiar with the great work done by the Conservation Drones organization, as well as some of the pilot projects that have taken place to prove the use of UAS as a means of combatting illegal poaching. We wanted to build on this work, with a focus on our oceans. So we started a project called SoarOcean that is operating under a small grant by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The focus will be on coastal communities where lack of resources have caused issues in protection of their waters and how inexpensive UAV platforms can change that (and allow them to document what is happening). The initial testing and development is happening (under a NOAA permit) in the marine protected areas off the coast of California, but evolving into some pilot opportunities in the Caribbean, Central America, and Western Africa. Progress will be posted on here, the National Geographic website, and the project webpage. You can also follow the project on twitter, at @SoarOcean.
Anyways, so there will be more information to follow, but I wanted to make the introduction to the community. I've talked to Wayne Garris previously about use of the Techpod as one of the platforms to be tested. I also have an ArduPlane (albeit its the one with the faulty airspeed sensor that was recalled - I was on travel for much of last year and missed out on the recall) and the RVJET. I would love to get your thoughts on platforms or anything else that the experts think could help us be successful!